Entering his ninth season as the Airport girls basketball coach, Trey Wallace might have his most athletic group of players yet.
The Eagles return four starters from last year's squad that posted an 8-2 region record, earning second place in Region 5-3A. Airport made the state playoffs but was eliminated in the first round, ending its season with a 13-7 record.
"We're a very athletic team, and we think that athleticism is going to be what drives us this year," Wallace said. "We're going to try and use our experience and athleticism to our advantage and, hopefully, those two assets will put us in some situations to win games against some good opponents."
Along with the four returning starters, point guard Shonta McNeal is slated as the fifth starter for the Eagles this season.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The State
"Shonta McNeal is going to run the point for us this year," Wallace said. "She's really aggressive and we're going to look for some big things out of her."
McNeal will be looking to find perimeter threat Jessica Ellison for open shots during the more up-tempo game that Wallace hopes to employ this season.
"We hope that we're going to be able to get up and down the floor," Wallace said. "We're not a tall team by any means, so we think that with the makeup of our squad this year it's going to be beneficial for us to try and get up and down the floor as quick as we can. Hopefully, we can get a lot of easy transition baskets this year."
Newcomer Nashanique Jackson will provide depth at the guard position behind McNeal and Ellison, and Wallace believes Jackson will need to continue the learning process as she begins to understand and experience varsity basketball.
"We've got a young guard named Nashanique Jackson who is a great kid that we see a lot of potential in," Wallace said. "She's still learning but she's definitely going to get some playing time this year."
If the Eagles hope to get farther than the first round of the playoffs this season, Wallace believes his team must learn how to step up to the plate and perform well on the big stage.
"We've got to learn how to play in big games,"the coach said. "We were a little uptight in a few of our games last season so we've got to learn from that experience and be ready to go out and perform no matter who we're playing."